Jurisdiction Project


Sardinia (Sardegna), is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an Italian region with special autonomous status.

Sardinia, area 24,113 sq km, makes up 8% of the Italian national land area, having a total coastal Length of 1,636 km. Sardinia is mostly mountainous, and is set on a rock basement that connects it to the island of Corsica. The most ancient rocks on the island are metamorphic and date back to the Paleozoic era (570-225 million years ago). Sardinia and Corsica broke away from the European Continent during the Oligocene period (38-26 million years ago). After their breakaway, volcanic activity transformed parts of the landscape. Sardinia has a varied and dramatic coastal landscape with sandy beaches alternating with rocky inlets and sheer cliffs. The island has 10% of Italy’s swamp areas: there are salt-water lagoons, and freshwater ponds. Campidano and Nurra are the largest alluvial plains on the island. Sardinia has a number of low mountainous regions. The Gennargentu range lies in the centre of the island, (highest peak 1,834 m), followed by the limestone area of Supramonte. Monte Limbara (1,359 m) in Gallura, Serpeddi (1,069 m), and Sette Frattelli (1,023 m) in south-eastern Sardinia are other important mountains. Water courses usually have a high volume in winter and very low volume, or dry up completely in the warmer months. The longest rivers are Tirso (150 km), and Flumendosa (127 km). Sardinia’s only natural lake is Baratz (located near Alghero), but the island has a number of other artificial lakes. Overall, hilly areas constitute 67.9% of the territory, plains 18.5%, and mountains 13.6%. Sardinia is not prone to earthquakes.

Located between Italy, Spain and Tunisia, south of Corsica.

Latitude and Longitude:
40 00 N, 9 00 E

Time Zone:
GMT +1

Total Land Area:


Sardinia has mild winters and hot Mediterranean summers. Average temperatures range between 11 degrees celsius and 22.5 degrees celsius. The average highest summer temperature is 39 degrees and average low temperature is –3.2 degrees. Most of the annual rainfall is between the months of November and February, but it is highly irregular. An annual average of 628 mm falls in the north, and 416mm in the south. The island is currently experiencing a drought.

Natural Resources:
The distance between Sardinia and the Italian mainland and its unique geological features makes it a perfect environment for endemic flora and fauna, such as the monk seal, and peregrine hawks. Nanism (the presence of dwarf versions of the same animals found off the island) is common on Sardinia, such as the small horses which live on the Giara plateau, or Sardinian deer, which are smaller than their European relatives. The island also has a rich diversity of resident and migrating bird populations, such as the pink flamingos which stop at the ponds in the southern and central areas of the island on their migratory journey between Tunisia and Camargue. The marine life is also extremely diverse in a variety of fish, shell-fish, sea plants, as well as sea turtles and dolphins. The coastal area also boasts some stunning caves along the rocky shoreline.


Total GDP:
2001 21,765,679,846.00 USD

Per Capita GDP:
2001 13,390.00 USD
2003 19,990.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2001 5% 20% 75%

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2003 10% 22% 68%

External Aid/Remittances:

Between 1995 and 1999 the island’s GDP increased by an average of 2.2% annually in comparison to 1.5% for north-central Italy, and 1.9% for southern Italy.

Labour Force:
2003 659,000
2002 666,000
2001 660,000
1995 611,000

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)
2001 18.7%
2000 20.6%
1999 21%
1998 20.6%
1997 20%
1996 20%
1995 20.3%
1993 18.2%
1994 19.7%
2002 18.5%
2003 17.9%
2004 18%

There are 26 industrial areas in Sardinia with a total surface area of over 18,000 hectares. These are run by 16 industrial park consortiums and are found throughout the island. The parks are all near industrial ports and airports, and well connected to the principal towns on the island. There are 30,035 industrial enterprises in Sardinia which employ 114,000 workers, or 23.2% of the total work force. In 1999 the sector contributed 4,581 million euro to the economy, or 20% of the regional GDP. While various manufacturing industries employ 48.2% of the industrial labour force, a further 51.8% work in civil engineering. Mining and the mineral industry is on-going on the island. The main commodities mined are gold (Furtei mines near Cagliari), lead-zinc, ore, talc, alumina, aluminium, barite, bauxite, and bentonite. The island also has a smelting facility at Porto Vesme, and a Refinery at San Gavino. Sardinia’s service sector is considered the most important from the perspective of both the GDP and employment. The sector contributes 75% to the regions GDP and saleable services (in the private sector) account for 10,848 million euro, while non-saleable services (public administration) account for 5,925 million euro. In the private service sectors the most significant part (34%) is represented by the distributive trades, hotels, catering, and maintenance, while the services which are experiencing the highest growth rates are the transport and communications sectors. Total employment in the services sectors is 354,000, 87,000 of whom are employed in commerce, hotels, catering, maintenance and distributive trades.

Niche Industry:
Sardinia accommodates several internationally renowned research centres that are specialized in microelectronics, pharmacology, and biotechnology. By introducing a number of economic strategies, the Regional Government has sought to highlight the competitive advantages that Sardinia has that cannot be imitated in any other part of the world. Examples are its strategic position both geographically in the centre of the Mediterranean, and politically within the E.U.; its investment incentives drawn up by the Regional Government which entitles new firms wishing to set up businesses on the island to a series of regional funds allocated to the improvement and development of the local economy.

The tourism industry is especially strong on the island, although it is extremely seasonal and exceedingly dependent upon visitors from mainland Italy. In 2002, 10,262,000 tourists visited the island, 2,928,000 of whom were from countries other than Italy. In 2003, 10,241,000 tourists visited the island, 2,691,000 of whom were foreign.


Imports and Exports:

Sardinia has a negative balance of trade mainly due to its reliance on imports of petroleum products which accounted for 29% of all imports in 1994, and to the import of chemical and associates industry products which accounted for 16% of imports. The chemical sector dominated exports, with 55.7% of the total, followed by the mechanical industries with 7.5% of the total, metallurgy with 8.4%, the food industry with 4.3%, and textiles with 2.6%. The principal countries from which Sardinia imports are: the Mediterranean area (41%); OPEC member countries (31%); the other E.U. countries (20%); the OECD countries (17%). Sardinia exports primarily to: the E.U. countries (41%); the Mediterranean area (29%); the OECD countries ((14%); OPEC members (8%). The other regions of Italy constitute the main commercial partners of Sardinian enterprises, with imports making up 46.3% of the total, and exports composing 73.3%

Tot. Value of Imports 0.00 ()
From Eu:
Import Partners (EU:)
Partners Outside EU:
Import Partners:
Tot. Value of Exports ()
To Eu:
Export Partners:
Partners Outside EU::
Export Partners:
Main Imports:
Main Exports:



Number of Airports: 5
The three main airports are Cagliari-Elmas (48% of all traffic), Olbia-Costa Smeralda (31%), and Alghero-Fertilia (21%). There are also two smaller airports situated in the central-west at Oristano, and the central-east at Tortoli. The island is connected to major Italian and European airports by Meridiana, Alitalia, Volare, Air One, and most recently Ryan Air which offers a direct flight from London to Algero’s Fertilia airport.

Number of Main Ports: 5
There are five main ports on the island which receive 16% of the whole national traffic. This puts Sardinia in third position nationally for the volume of goods in transit. The main port for goods in transit is Sarroch (in the Cagliari Industrial Area), which handles 61% of all traffic, consisting almost exclusively of petroleum products. It is followed, in order of decreasing important, by Porto Torres (petroleum and chemical products), Olbia (machinery, minerals and agricultural products) and the industrial ports of Oristano, Arbatax and Portovesme. The Sardinia Ferries, Tirrenia, and the Moby lines have regular trips to and from the island. The most important passenger traffic ports are in the north of the island, and are, in order of importance: Olbia, La Maddalena, Porto Torres, and Cagliari.


1994/95: No. of air passengers: 303,040 (26%);

Sardinia is well-connected with roads connecting all major towns villages. The Fds (Ferrrovie Della Sardegna) connects the island by rail and bus, although rail travel is known to be extremely slow and at times undependable. ARST (Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti) has bus lines which connect all major towns and many villages. Trenino Verde, a historical railway built in 1888 to serve the most isolated areas of the island runs from June 30 – September 1 and serves as a tourist day-trip attraction rather than as an efficient means of getting from one area of the island to another.

1994/95: No. of sea passengers: 8,590,810 (74%);

Other Forms of Transportation:
There are many independent car-rental dealerships as well as moped agencies on the island.

Economic Zones:
The establishment of economic zones in which foreign companies can set up business in exchange for tax benefits for both import and export activities is another strategy employed by the government to draw further foreign investment into the local economy. The Region gets the benefit of 70% of income tax raised on the island, and 70% of company taxes, even when the companies are located outside of the island’s territory, provided that their activities are undertaken on the island.

Energy Policy:
Production of Alternative Types of Energy (Mwh): Hydro-electric (1984) 551,000; (1988)383,000; (1992)466,000; (1996)583,000; Thermic energy (1984) 7,077,000; (1988) 8,655,000; (1992) 9,125,000; (1996) 9,771,000. NB: The energy production of hydro-electric for the years between those shown drops and rises dramatically. The figures for the period between 1992 and 1996 are 408,000 (1993); 416,000 (1994); and 285,000 (1995) respectively. Most of Sardinia’s electricity is imported, at considerable cost, although Sardinia is the one region in Italy with its own electricity grid which makes it far less vulnerable to national power outages.

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)


Official Currency:

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
Number of Insurance Companies:

 Banking is also an important component of the services sector. There are 643 bank branches in Sardinia distributed in 335 towns. Principal national and European banks are represented, but an important role is also played by the island’s banks (Banca di Sardegna, Banca di Sassari, Banca CIS) which have a strong market presence, especially in smaller towns. Apart from banks there are other companies which provide intermediary financial services such as SFIRS (Societa Finanziaria Industriale Rinascita Sardegna), which is owned by the Regional Government,

Financial Services:


Public Ownership:

Land Use:
Sardinia has three natural parks: Gennargentu, Sette Fratelli, and Monte Acorsu, as well as the Tavolara Marine Preserve.

In 2001 there were 83,917 agricultural enterprises spread over a cultivable surface of 1,331,062 hectares. These enterprises absorbed 8.8% of the total labour force. The Agricultural sector contributes 4.5% of the island’s GDP and gross saleable production in 2001 was 1,640 million euro. The principal component of the agricultural activity is farming of livestock. Sardinia’s sheep farming represents about 48% of the national total. Sheep milk is almost entirely used for the production of cheese which is exported to Europe, the U.S.A., and Canada. Prime grade artichokes, tomatoes, rice, sugar, beet, wine, grapes, olives and olive-oil are the other principal agricultural products.

Marine Activity:


Marine Life:

Critical Issues:


Capital: Cagliari. Sardinia is divided into four provinces whose capitals are Cagliari, Sassari, Nuoro and Oristano, and 377 comuni or municipalities: Sassari has 90 comuni, Nuoro has 100 comuni, Oristano has 78, and Cagliani has 109.

Political System:
The Sardinian Government has special autonomous powers, both legislative and administrative. Some of the competencies given exclusively to the island are the administration of the island’s agricultural sectors, tourism, commerce and public works, and crafts. Other areas must be co-managed with the state, such as industry, banking, hygiene, health, sea and air transport. Sardinia has been given the power to adapt national legislation to fit its needs in areas such as education, employment and social security. The two governing bodies in the region are the Regional Council, whose 80 members are elected every two years, and the executive (Giunta), with its President elected directly by the Council, and twelve regional government ministers who are appointed by the regional Council and are responsible for the various branches of administration. The legislative capacity belongs to both of these bodies, but the population may also be consulted by means of a referendum. Cagliari is the seat of the Regional Government and the main regional institutions.

Political Parties:

Important Legislation:
Special Statute for Sardinia (1948)

Principal Taxes:

Associated Power:




Population density in Sardinia is up to 100 people per square kilometer. It is one of the six least densely populated areas in Italy. 42% of the Sardinian population lives in comuni with more than 20,000 inhabitants (14 of them). Of this 42%, more than 17% resides in the city centers of Cagliari and Sassari. Another 43% of the population lives in 239 comuni comprised of between 1,000 and 10,000 inhabitants. There are 109 municipalities in which the population is not above 1,000 inhabitants. These cover 30% of the comuni in which about 4% of the population lives. These comuni are constantly decreasing in size, and during the course of 2003 lost 0.8% of their population.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up



Crude Birth Rate:
2003 8.3%

Life Expedctancy:

Crude Death Rate:
2003 8.9%


Class Division:

The main language in Sardinia is Sardinian, a Romance language with origins in Phoenician, Etruscan, and Near-Eastern roots. Sardinians identify themselves as a people and a nation. In the northern regions of Gallura and Sassari, people speak a Corsican, an Italian dialect. On the island of San Pietro off the south-western side of Sardinia, the dialect spoken is Ligurian, from Genoa. In the city of Alghero, on the eastern coast, a mediaeval dialect of Catalan is still spoken as the city was a Catalan colony in the past. All Sardinians also speak Italian, which is the language of instruction in all educational institutions. Gallurese Sardinian, spoken by an ethnic group in northeastern Sardinia, is now on UNESCO’s endangered languages list, as are Logudorese Sardinian (spoken in central Sardinia), Capidanese Sardinian (southern Sardinia), Sassarese Sardinian (Northwestern Sardinia), and Algherese Sardinian (northwest Sardinia).



Education System:

Total Pre-schools:()
Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools:
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:


Students Enrolled:


There are two universities on the island: the University of Cagliari, and the University of Sassari. Instruction is in Italian and nearly all of the faculties are represented. 59,958 students were enrolled in 2001. There were 77,000 graduates in 2001, with an average of 3,300 new graduates per year. Sardinia had 27,857 teachers in 1979. This number went up to 32,335 in 1986, and in 1996 the figure had reached 33,608. This figure rose significantly between 1986 and 1995 when it dropped down to this last figure. There are 979 primary schools with 143,640 students, and 233 secondary level schools with 90,505 students. There are currently 308,000 people with high school diplomas, and an average of 7,500 high school diplomas awarded every year. In 2000 there were 385 public libraries on the island.

Medical Services:
In 2001 there were 49 hospitals on the island. 36 of these were public, and provided 7,319 beds. 13 were private hospitals, with 1,807 beds. These hospitals were staffed with 3,238 doctors.


 The history and geography of the island had a significant role in the island being given a special autonomous status by the Italian government. Sardinia is regarded as the only truly insular area in Italy as it is separated from the mainland of Italy by 120 miles. This distance contributed to the historical differences between the mainland and Sardinia, as well as maintaining the cultural diversity resulting from history. By the 1840’s Sardinia had been occupied by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Pisans, Genoese, Aragonese, and the Piedmontese. The Island had been divided into four “giudicati” or judgeships which were ruled by judges during the IV century A.D., but these lost their independence under the Pisans and Genoese. The islanders wanted to move in the direction of liberal reform which was the direction that the Italian national unit was moving in, but at the same time there was the strong desire to maintain a certain degree of decentralization and autonomy that did not mix well with national unity. The administration of the kingdom of Italy was pursuing a policy of rigorous centralism in which there was no space for Sardinia to pursue autonomous powers. Thus Sardinia was left behind along with the rest of southern Italy. Agriculture was dominated by the breeding of sheep, sanitary conditions were terrible and malaria was rampant. There was very little industrial activity, and the few mining operations that were in existence were being carried out by foreign-owned companies. Infrastructure was severely lacking, and communications between the island and mainland Italy were extremely poor. WWI marked the turning in Sardinia’s history. The tens of thousands of soldiers that left the island to fight in the war were able to see some of the most advanced areas of the country which gave birth, upon their return home, to the desire to invest in the improvement of the living conditions in Sardinia. This movement led to the creation of the Partito Sardo D’Azione (“Sardinian Action Party”) which asserted a broad degree of autonomy while remaining within the framework of the Italian State. Fascism reduced the prospect of an improved quality of life and increased degree of autonomy to nothing, but after WWII the proposal for a regional autonomy was again taken up, not only by the Partito Sardo D’Azione, but also by the other parties (such as the Christian Democracy Party). The post-war Italian government was pro-decentralization, which finally moved the proposal for regional autonomy for Sardinia forward, and in January, 1948, the Italian Parliament approved the Special Statute of Sardinia, creating an autonomous region within the political unity of the Italian Republic.


Recent Significant Events:

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:
Archeological Sites: Sardinia is covered in the remains of the many conquering civilizations that inhabited its shores. The Glara of Gesturi is a thirty-five square kilometer basaltic plateau surrounded by plains and rolling hills. It is described as being an island within an island, and is home to unique flora and fauna as well as the site of 23 nuraghi (round stone structures built by the Nuragic culture in the second millennium, B.C. There are more than 7000 nuraghi in Sardinia. The Nuragic complex of Su Nuraxi was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997. There are a number of Roman and Medieval ships which have been excavated out of the mud off Olbia and are a testament to the historic grandeur of this area of the island. Festivals: There are three festival periods on the island, which draw a good deal of international attention and local participation. The first of these is the Ardia, a ritual horse-race in Sedilo, a province of Oristano which takes place on the 6th and 7th of July. The second is the festival of Sant’Efisio, the island’s patron saint. This is Sardinia’s most important religious event and draws hundreds of pilgrims to Cagliari to honour the saint, wearing traditional costumes. The third period of festivities celebrated on the island are the Holy Week Rites in which the passion, death, and life of Christ are celebrated and my mystery of the resurrection of Christ is commemorated. Handicrafts: Sardinia has a rich collection of handicrafts which are made by a number of small laboratories and cooperatives which have formed for tourism income, and are coordinated by a regional board, I.S.O.L.A. These artisans make baskets and pottery, as well as pursuing goldsmith’s art, weaving, leatherwork, basket-making, and iron and copper molding.


EURISLES. Regional Disparities: Statistical Indicators Linked to Insularity and Ultra-Peripherality. http://eurisles.org/textes/status_iles/abstract_sardinia.htm Investing in Sardinia: Regione Autonoma della Sardegna. http://server1.sentieroimpresa.it/investinsardegna/code/index/LINGUA/EN ISTAT. http://www.istat.it/index.htm NEWMAN, HAROLD. R. (2001), The Mineral Industry of Italy. http://www.minerals/pubs/country/2001/itmybo1.pdf Regione Autonoma della sardegna. http://www.regione.sardegna.it Sardinia Point. http://www.sardiniapoint.it SVIMEZ: Associazione per lo Sviluppo Dell’Industria nel Mezzogiorno. http://www.svimez.it Wikipedia. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/sardinia


Useful Links:

Please address queries to:
Institute of Island Studies
University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)
550 University Ave
Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 4P3

Copyright 2007. Institute of Island Studies, UPEI. Educational and
Non-Commercial Use Only